Yoga – Understanding the Basic Rules to Get the Most from Your Practice
In yoga, each posture has its roots which go downwards into the earth beneath you. It’s this foundation that keeps you secure and steady so that you can release and stretch without any tension or effort.
When you are standing you create your foundation by rooting down through your heels, the base of the big toe and the base of the little toe. When you lift your toes this activates the arches of the feet, in turn this connects into your pelvic floor!
The body is much interconnected and we start to learn and understand this more we feel into the postures in our yoga practice. When you are inverted in postures like a shoulderstand or a handstand or a headstand then your foundation is built through your elbows or your hands. And in seated postures it is the action of rooting down through your sitting bones that creates your foundation for the pose.
This foundation is so important because forming a base that is secure and stable in the pose is the starting point. From there you can lengthen your spine as you breathe; releasing the pelvis and releasing the head and neck. The benefit is that the spine isn’t compressed because from a stable foundation you can free your spine from any habitual imbalances that might have developed.
It’s interesting because even in Asanas that you might think are complicated, the spine can release and lengthen. Think about a backbend; in order to bend the spine has to lengthen first, it’s not simply hinging the back of the waist. In a twist, the spine has to lengthen in order to create the twist or turn.
In beginning your Yoga journey, focus on simple poses where you can create a secure and stable foundation so you can experience what they really feels like. When you have learned how to build that grounded base for the posture, you can stretch with the movement of your breath and then you’ll begin to understand the purpose of the more complex poses. By doing this that means you’ll be able to release tension as you stretch and balance your breath.
The key is to keep your practice simple until you feel you are ready to go further. It is counter intuitive to push your body into the poses by compressing the curves of your spine. This may enable you to get into the pose but your body quickly becomes stressed and tired – that’s not yoga.
It is a gradual and an individual journey. We are all unique so rejoice in your uniqueness. Listen to the breath at all times, it is your guide. If you are holding the breath it is a sign that you have gone too far into the pose on that day.
All of us have different bodies and therefore some of the poses may not be appropriate for your body or look exactly as they do in the book, the person next to you or your teacher. Your teacher can guide you and support you with modifications and adaptations.